On the record, everyone tries to keep a brave face. Basically every last person involved in the new Collective Bargaining Association talks say that a lockout can be avoided. They then say that will happen when the other side caves to their demands. But on the record they hold out hope.
Off the record, nobody is optimistic about avoiding a lockout. In fact, plenty will say its inevitable. There are some hardline owners who want a radical change in the economics, the players say that it is more about the owners sharing revenue and not the contract system, and they will not be easily moved.
So it was a refreshing bit of honesty to read what Carmelo Anthony told Sports Illustrated and its senior NBA writer Ian Thompson:
“I’ve been sitting in meetings with the owners and seeing what is their problem with everything,” he said. “I’ve been in several of the meetings to know what the problem is and what’s going on. It’s going to take some time to get the owners and the players on the same page.”
Is there going to be a lockout?
“Oh, without a doubt,” he said. “Without a doubt.”
So that’s another reason to sign the extension now, I said.
Come July 1 you can bet there is a lockout. That’s not the real drop-dead date though. For most fans, if there is a lockout in July that gets solved in August so that training camps open on time and no games are missed, all will be forgotten and forgiven. If games are missed — especially in this economy — fans will not be forgiving and the impact on ticket sales and the NBA’s popularity will linger for years. Both sides know this, but both are digging in their heals. It could get ugly.
But a lockout is coming. Without a doubt.
NEW YORK (AP) — TNT will use broadcast teams featuring only former players and no traditional play-by-play men during five NBA doubleheaders later this season.
The “Players Only” schedule runs Monday nights from Feb. 27 to March 27 and includes matchups such as Golden State-Oklahoma City on March 20 and Cleveland-San Antonio a week later.
Brent Barry will serve as the primary host of one team with Derek Fisher and Grant Hill, while Greg Anthony partners with Kevin McHale and Richard Hamilton on the other.
Lisa Leslie and Dennis Scott will serve as reporters.
Turner Sports says Thursday that Chris Webber will anchor the studio coverage with Isiah Thomas and Baron Davis, and that additional NBA players will contribute to the five-week program.
HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden took some time out after the Houston Rockets’ win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks to give a fan a present on a her 100th birthday.
Video shows Harden signing a ball for the woman and spending a few moments sitting next to her in her courtside seat and posing for pictures Wednesday night.
Harden told ESPN’s Doris Burke in an interview that he told the woman how “blessed” he was to be able to have a chance to meet her.
The Houston guard also put on a good show for the fan during the game, scoring 38 points in a 111-92 victory over the Bucks.
Kings center DeMarcus Couins appears set to become the first player to sign as a veteran designated player. The Pacers hope Paul George will follow.
But in the Pacers’ win over the Kings yesterday, George beat Cousins.
Not even Cousins thwacking George in the face could stop this dunk.
The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.
He might get back far sooner than that.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star break.
Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.
The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.